Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life Lessons From My Children

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I've grown so much as a person in the last three-and-a-half years. I'm not the person I once was and my growth has definitely been for the better. Along the way I've learned quite a bit. I've learned that it's not all about the lessons we impart on our children (not even close!). It's more about the lessons they choose to teach us.

Here are ten life lessons I learned from my children:

1. There really is such a thing as love at first sight. The second I saw her sweet, vernix-covered face I knew there was no going back. I was so in love with Beanie. It was instantaneous. Not that there wasn't a lot of love for her before she decided to make her entrance into this world, but when I saw her it all changed. I knew there was nothing I wouldn't do for her. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I still can't. You hear people talking about the love they have for their children. Let me just tell you that you have no idea. As Glenn and I discussed becoming a family of four, I wondered how I would ever be able to love a second child as much as I loved my first. As any parent of two or more knows, that question is moot; the love for your children, whether you have one or seven, is exponential and grows daily.

2. Learning happens all the time. Every moment is an opportunity to learn. Take the time to think about things, ask why, and let your curiosity lead you. I've often said I could be a professional student (if only someone would pay for my tuition!); there's no better "student" than a three year old. They are full of wonder and curiosity. I try to remember that as I'm being asked "why?" for the ten-thousandth time. We learn as we go.

3. It's not about the destination; it's about the journey. Before I had children, I'd hike to the waterfall or the top of a mountain. Now? Not so much. Go for a walk or a hike with a toddler and you'll quickly learn exactly what I mean. That bug on the leaf you never would have noticed? Fascinating. The beauty of a field of flowers? Take it in. For an hour. That slug who you thought looked the same as all the others? Different. You may not even make it to your destination, but taking the time to enjoy the journey, the process, makes the destination less important.

4. Plans are made to be broken. That grand scheme I've had to clean one room a day? The plan to make it to the grocery store before naptime? The checklist of things to get done? They don't really seem that important when the other option is snuggling with your daughter while your son takes his morning nap.

5. Cooking and baking are fun... There are a few reasons this lesson has been important to me. Partly because, being gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, I have to cook for myself now. And, more importantly, the joy on Beanie's face when we get to bake together is priceless. It's a new found hobby of mine, and one I've learned to enjoy.

6. ...so is doing the dishes. I hate doing dishes.They're just like laundry. You do them and, as soon as you're done, there's more to do. But, doing dishes with Beanie? So much fun. She's taught me that there really isn't anything you can't make fun.

7. Trust your instincts. Whether in regards to switching to midwife care at 34 weeks pregnant or being the parent your gut is telling you to be, becoming a mother has taught me that my instincts are usually right. Trust yours.

8. There is joy in the littlest things. The other day Beanie's eyes lit up as we shared a banana. A quick hug. A family dance party. A simple "I love you." An ear-to-ear grin as she learns to ride her bike. Heading to the park, going for a walk, reading stories together while her brother sleeps. It's not the big things we do or places we go that really make an impact; it's the little things each and every day that bring us the most joy.

9. Life without wheat, dairy and soy "ain't that bad." Sure, there are times that are harder than others, but being on a restricted diet due to Bubby's food sensitivities has been rewarding. I feel a lot healthier. The change in Bubby has been remarkable. We've explored new foods and found that different isn't bad. In fact, a lot of times it's better.

10. Take time for yourself. You're worth it. I struggle with this, but have found that I really am a better mom (and wife and all-around person) when I take time for myself. You can't be everything to everyone. Or, if you're like me and a mom who really tries to be, you need to make sure and include yourself on that list. I'm trying to share this lesson with Beanie as she gets older; she no longer naps, but she does need a mid-day refresher and I want her to know that's okay. She has even started to ask for some "quiet time for herself."

What lessons have your children taught you?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


  1. I have so, so, so much trouble with #3 and #4, and so I'm grateful that mothering my little boy is requiring me to loosen up with my goals and plans. As for "Learning happens all the time," I'm enjoying that one so much right now! My little boy is 2 years old, and his favorite question is "Wha's that? Wha's that?" So much fun!

  2. I love this post! It is so true that kids can help us like things that we consider chores. Their joy is infectious :) Thank you for sharing!

  3. Loving number 10! And I love that Beanie has taught you than even washing up is fun. I need to borrow her for an afternoon :)

  4. It's true, children do change us for the better! And learning does happen all the time :) We especially find that is so, being homeschoolers.

  5. Your comment about the slug got me chuckling. It's so true! The journey slows down, and forget the destination entirely if you want to stay as happy as they are! And you're totally right that kids can take any boring old thing and make it fun. I just have to remind myself to join in, instead of (once again) worrying about the purpose or result.

  6. I love this post. I have learned so much as a mother already, and it grows every day!

  7. I didn't have the love at first sight thing with Moira, but the rest of these ring so true. Thank you for sharing this list.

  8. @Shannon, you know, I didn't feel the "love at first sight" with Bubby. It was quite a different post-partum experience, both immediately and later on, too. I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

  9. I so agree that learning happens all the time! It's amazing how much I've learned since becoming a mom. As a teacher, I focus on experiential, place-based learning, and there's no better example than being immersed in being a mommy day and night!

  10. I love your list-- so much of it rings true for me as well, especially the baking and cooking. I never realized how much I enjoy it until food allergies made food preparation a necessity.

  11. Wonderful! These are all great reminders for me. I love baking too (and we are dairy free -- but do eat the other things!) and my girls love to join me too -- though I struggle with how to manage it with them all!

    I also love how you are finding times to connect with your oldest one-on-one. I need to do that more!


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